E-gov panel: Don't measure efforts by page views

What counts, say e-gov practitioners, is, 'Did you help people who needed help?'
Written by ZDNet UK, Contributor

How does government evaluate if their Web efforts are hitting the mark? The metrics that are used for commercial sites - page views and unique visitors - are bound to prove inadequate, according to Karen Evans, administrator of e-government and IT for the Office of Management and Budget. Speaking at the fourth anniverary of early e-gov initiative Govbenefits.gov, Evans said e-gov initiatives need to focus on how the services are actually serving citizens, Government Computer News reports.

That actual efficacy of a site like Govbenefits, not the PR value of big numbers (Govbenefits gets 350,000 visits a month), comes into sharp relief during the never-ending aftermath of Katrina.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Web site grew in significance as President Bush encouraged those affected by the storm to visit the portal and see what government programs—including state and local—may be available. [Steven Law, Labor deputy secretary and chairman of the President’s Management Council subcommittee on e-government] said that to date the site contains 73 links to state-funded programs, “and the numbers will keep growing.”

Success on the Web will mean breaking out of an agency silo mindset. Citizens can't possibly be aware of what particular agency handles their exact needs, so portals make sense. But the information people need might not necessarily be a government asset. That means portals should refer citizen to non-government sources, said Charlie Grymes, program manager for Recreation One Stop, an online repository of federal recreation information

“The way to leverage our partners is to be authoritative with the data we provide,” he said.

“Being the authoritative source of information, that’s what the public expects from us,” Evans added.

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